China Beat Archive


Date of this Version


Document Type



2011 in The China Beat


Copyright 2011. Used by permission.


Ken Pomeranz, Kate Merkel-Hess and I had various reasons for launching this blog at the start of 2008. One thing that led us to start the venture, at a time when Kate was the only one of us with any blogging experience, was simply a sense that some of the things that we were saying to one another over lunch and in the hallways at UC Irvine might be of interest to people in other places who were working on, living in, or just curious about China. As much as the venture has developed since then (adding new contributors continually, undergoing a change of editors, as Kate, who started out in that role, went from being a UCI doctoral student to beginning a career as an Assistant Professor at Penn State, and Maura Cunningham took over from her, etc.), some posts still have their roots in local conversations. This is definitely the case with this one. Over the years, Ken and I have talked a lot about China’s “water woes” (to invoke the title of one of his earlier posts), and I also had the good fortune to be able to hear him give an excellent illustrated presentation on hydraulic concerns (well, he made some comments about dry land, too) when he accepted our campus’ top research award a while back. It seemed only natural, with water issues grabbing headlines yet again, to find a way to make his insights onto the topic more widely available. So I put some questions to Ken (who incidentally is one of two candidates up for the presidency of the American Historical Association) that I thought would be of interest to anyone who has read his previous writings on water, for venues such as The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, New Left Review, the Huffington Post, and, of course, China Beat.